Mnaieions are among the more desirable ancient gold coins. Their attractiveness is no doubt enhanced when one arrives on the block in Mint State. This occurred at Goldbergs’ Pre-Long Beach June 4-7 sale.
The coin had been struck by Ptolemy IV Philopator, c. 219-217 B.C.E., to honor his father Ptolemy III Euergetes. The design is redolent with symbolism (Svoronos 1117).
The obverse shows a bust of the deified Ptolemy III wearing a radiate diadem and aegis. The middle prong of the trident ends in a lotus. The reverse depicts a radiate cornucopia.
The quality of the piece was such that Goldbergs had no issue describing it as “the finest example we have seen!” In the circumstances the price realized of $24,675 was not unexpected.
Ptolemaic gold mnaieions were one of the larger ancient gold denominations struck. They had a considerable face value of one mina, or 100 drachms.
That on offer was produced by the young and inexperienced Ptolemy IV to pay his troops during the Fourth Syrian War. Presumably the image of Ptolemy III was intended to inspire the army of Ptolemy IV, reminding them that they had won great victories during the Third Syrian War.
It presumably worked. Ptolemy IV and his army stood firm at the battle of Raphia and broke the advance of Antiochos III the Great towards the gates of Egypt.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.